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Long-Term Changes in the Woodlands of Rockingham Forest and Other Areas

G. F. Peterken
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 64, No. 1 (Mar., 1976), pp. 123-146
DOI: 10.2307/2258686
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2258686
Page Count: 24
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Long-Term Changes in the Woodlands of Rockingham Forest and Other Areas
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Abstract

Changes in the distribution and management of woodlands in Rockingham Forest in the east midlands of England are quantified from about 1650 onwards, at six dates for which complete cartographic cover is available. Changes during the Middle Ages and earlier are discussed in general terms. The origin of woodland present in the Middle Ages is uncertain, but a proportion occupied land which was not wooded in the Roman period. Some woods have existed throughout the historical period; in these there has probably been little change in the composition of underwood, which is regarded as semi-natural. Continuity of mature timber within these woods is also considered. The rate of change in woodland distribution, composition and structure has been greater since 1946 than at any previous period. Species which are able to colonize new woodland readily will be favoured against poor colonizers. Existing woods have a bimodal distribution of age against time. Other features which distinguish the recent period from previous periods are described, and the possible effects on the native flora and fauna are discussed. Comparisons are made with the woodland history of Central Lincolnshire and West Cambridgeshire which emphasize the individuality with which each area responds to pressures for change.

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